If it’s the last Friday of the month then it must mean that it is time for Critical Mass London.
Dulwich one weekend, Critical mass the next. I feel like I’m living out my middle age years as though it was 1998 all over again.
Which is no bad thing.
Not much has changed with the modern day Critical Mass when compared to the roll outs around town that we use to undertake back in the day.
Mysteriously a random group of riders still meet on the last Friday of every month underneath the arches of Waterloo, and then sometime after 7pm suddenly decide to set out on a random bicycle ride.
Sure, all of the tech thing is here now. I found out on Friday that you use the #CriticalMass hashtag whilst tweeting the ride, you receive requests from lost riders trying to find out where you are.
@Jason_Cobb in m not far behind. Where r you now
— Barry Ayton (@AytonBarry) April 24, 2015
Which for me on Friday evening was enjoying a leisurely ride around town on the Brompton.
It’s quite a rarity for me to roll out on the Brompton if it’s not a work commute. The Brompton is my work horse, top-loaded back and front with a couple of bags to carry all of the tools of the trade.
I felt incredibly free as I set off from South Lambeth Road on a Brompton light / lite.
With destination Waterloo reached, I looked around at some of the other bikes and riders that had turned up. As ever, I’m crap with estimations. But I’d wager that there was a least 500 riders for Friday evening.
Something that you never use to see back in the day was a Santander bike. The red livery that has replaced the corporate Barclays blue had a strong presence on Friday evening.
It got me thinking about how the Santander bikes have now flooded the streets of the city. A couple of months ago and there was a thrill in spotting a random red. Soon it will be the same for seeing a Barclays blue that has somehow survived the cull.
Elsewhere and recumbents and sound systems featured heavily. Dub reggae is the Critical Mass rider’s music of choice.
And then the bicycle bells started to ring, the horns were blown and the front of the ride made the slow roll out around the Waterloo Imax.
But wait! What’s this?
We only headed south for a brief moment.
Brimful of Asha on one sound system brought the first genuine GRIN for the evening.
That sounded bloody good.
We peaked a little too soon at The Palace. The flag was flying but there was no sign of Brenda and her clan.
Some cheeky wag skinned up and had a crafty toke in front of the gates.
A car free Hyde Park Corner was an absolute joy. This is one of the few spots around the city that I simply refuse to cycle under normal circumstances.
We carried on through Belgravia, and then whipped round into the West End.
The couple on the tandem were having tremendous fun taking it in turns to complete the workload.
Camden came up next, but not for long. It was then back down through Bloomsbury and a brief spot in the West End once again.
I made my excuses just past Charring Cross and rode along the Embankment and back south down to Sunny Stockwell.
A light shower was forecast late evening. My Brompton just doesn’t do the rain, dahhhling.
And so not a bad Critical Mass. The next few months is where the real fun starts with the lighter evenings and the rides really do come alive.
I many even manage some old school 1998 moves on the bike if no one is watching.
Still we ride.